Put this one in the good news column:
The Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday it plans next month to finalize controversial rules requiring companies to disclose payments they make to foreign governments and whether their items contain “conflict materials” from war-torn nations in Africa.
In an open-meeting statement posted on its website, the SEC said the commission will consider on Aug. 22 whether to adopt rules on the long-delayed proposals, both of which come from provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act that were statutorily required to be finished last year.
The two provisions, sections 1502 and 1504, are intended to curb corruption and promote transparency among companies involved in resource extraction. Both provisions have been at the center of a furious fight over implementing the law, though the battle over Section 1504 has garnered much more attention, pitting good-government groups against business interests.
Dodd-Frank Section 1504 would require that all oil, gas, and mining companies listed in the United States disclose all payments they make it governments around the world. Under the status quo, and oil company may make a big oil deal with a developing country, but the details of that deal would often not be made publicly available. Civil society, concerned citizens, and other anti-corruption forces wouldn’t be armed with the information they need to hold their leaders to account. If the SEC votes in favor of strong rules, all of this information will be disclosed on a project-by-project basis in a searchable database online. The EU is working on companion legislation.
The regulations are long overdue. The original bill passed Congress more than two years ago, but the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been dragging its feet. They have missed their statutory deadline by over a year. However, the final regulations look to be on their way. Strong rules, as written in the law, would be a major victory for transparency advocates.
Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated to be the views of the Task Force, the opinions expressed on this blog are solely the opinions of the individual blogger and are not necessarily those of the Task Force on Financial Integrity & Economic Development.